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Sunday, 11 February 2018

“St Andrew”, by an unidentified engraver from the circle of Giulio Bonasone, after Michelangelo, c1550


Unidentified engraver from the circle of Giulio Bonasone (1500/10–1574)

“St Andrew", c1550, after a detail of the engraving by Giulio Bonasone (c1546) (see BM no. H,4.70 and the copy held by the Rijksmuseum http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.85022), after a detail of Michelangelo’s (1475–1564) “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel.

Engraving on laid paper trimmed with small margins around the platemark and re-margined on a support sheet.
Size: (re-margined support sheet) 38.4 x 28.6 cm; (sheet) 20.1 x 13.2 cm; (plate) 19.8 x 12.5 cm
Numbered at lower right: “40”

Copy (of a detail) after TIB 28 (15). 79 (132) (Suzanne Boorsch & John Spike (eds.) 1985, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Italian Masters of the Sixteenth Century”, vol. 28, Abaris, New York, p. 283); Bartsch XV.132.79

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Naked male figure supporting a cross on his back, after Michelangelo's Last Judgement.”

Condition: superb impression trimmed close to the platemark with a small restored loss (virtually invisible) to the tip of the upper left corner and re-margined on an archival support sheet.

I am selling this rare engraving executed around the same time that Michelangelo was working on the “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel for AU$240 (currently US$187.63/EUR153.07/GBP135.70 at the time of posting this listing). Postage for this print is extra and will be the actual/true cost.

If you are interested in purchasing this visually arresting engraving, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 


There are a few features of this engraving separating it from Bonasone’s version of St Andrew (originally titled less specifically as “Study of a Figure Bearing a Cross”) from Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel. For example, the figure immediately behind St Andrew has been omitted and the composition shows a closer view of the saint with the added modesty of a loin cloth. Nevertheless, both prints share the same stylistic leaning to what Madeline Cirillo Archer (1995) in her commentary volume on the TIB catalogue raisonné (vol. 28) describes as Marcantonio Raimondi’s “technique and sculptural approach” (p. 287). Regarding this approach, Archer explains that in the late 1540s Bonasone had a “developed understanding … for the plastic potential of burin work that follows the volumes of the body” (ibid).

Interestingly, just as this unidentified engraver has omitted details from Bonasone’s print, so too had Bonasone omitted details from Michelangelo’s composition. This notion of only keeping what the reproductive artist perceived to be significant features of an original composition, however, was a fairly standard practice during the Renaissance era and was certainly a practice that even Raimondi engaged in. To help explain the need to change compositions, Archer (1995) proposes the following insight into Bonasone’s selective process: “Bonasone has separated the group [St Andrew and the figure behind him] from its crowded environment and created a new composition which, in its isolation, magnifies its power” (ibid).

This image of St Andrew (albeit Bonasone’s version) is well known to avid book readers as it features on the cover of Bernard Barryte’s (2015) marvellous, enormous and heavy exhibition catalogue, “Myth, Allegory, and Faith: The Kirk Edward Long Collection of Mannerist Prints” (exh. cat. Cantor Arts Center). With reference to this composition, Barryte offers the following wonderful description of its power:
“… Bonasone seems purposely to minimise his own virtuosity, employing relatively simple means to render the figure. He depends on design—the precise placement of the figure on the plate and the stark contrast between black ink and pale paper—for visual drama and employs a minimalist combination of relatively long, parallel, curving lines, simple cross hatching, and selective stippling to reveal the rotundity of muscles and the massive solidity of the figure.” (p. 368).






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